By Steve Lickteig, executive producer
I grew up in Kansas during the “Let’s Make America Great Again” Reagan years. Kansans, in general, were big fans of President Reagan, despite economic policies that many would argue hurt a majority of its rural, middle-class citizens, including my parents. But, back then, Republicanism in Kansas grew from a different seed than it does today. It was more the party of pragmatism and less the party of religion and morality, although both were part of the mix. But for my parents, and most other Kansans, to be Republican was to be a hard worker, not someone who concerned themselves with the personal business of others. Kansas today doesn’t resemble that Kansas much anymore, and it doesn’t come close to the Kansas of 100 years ago. It’s easy to forget that Kansas was founded as a free state, filled with staunch abolitionists and social progressives, who even elected the first female mayor in the nation in 1887. By all accounts, Kansas was once considered a place ahead of its time.
On this weekend’s show, Bob talks with Joe Winston and Thomas Frank about the documentary What’s the Matter With Kansas? (Winston directed the film based on Thomas Frank’s 2004 book.) The film examines the people who make up the “new” Kansas, a place that a Kansan of the late 1800’s would probably find hard to understand today.